There was a day last March when I couldn’t imagine the snow would ever fully melt. Our home was surrounded by giant drifts that felt like formidable glaciers. But, our fortress of snow did give in to spring’s urging.
I got a good start in my garden this year, which I find makes all the difference when the July heat shows up and brassica greens showboat, the arugula erupts into a floral parade and that lacey weed I’ve never been able to identify tries to strangle the carrots. As much as I don’t love the look of weedmat, it’s become my green thumbed bff, keeping the soil warm, keeping the weeds down and keeping my garden enthusiasm at a clip of enjoyment instead of overwhelm.
Margot is officially done with elementary school and while sending her to kindergarten felt really hard, this feels way harder. I wish I could redo just a few of our slow morning walks across the creek to our neighborhood school. But that’s not the way it works and I’ll surely savor every step for the next two years when it’s just Ruby and me on that walk. And I’ll enjoy watching my eldest explore a new life outside the one she’s known, the one where she’s been with the same kids in the same hood since before she can remember.
I forgot what year it was this morning. I wrote down 2010 and moved on. A few minutes later I deduced that couldn’t be right because Ruby was born in 2009 and only then did 2019 pop into my head. Later in the day I googled memory loss and, like most things in an interweb search, that was a worrisome and slippery slope. A friend shrugged and said she sometimes gets things scrambled too and I allowed that information to negate anything I read on google. Totally normal 41 year old stuff. Right?
We’ve been camping as much as possible this year, urged on by the looming likelihood of forest fires. The kids are so capable now — building fires, pitching tents, packing all their own stuff. Well, the packing could use a little backup as on our last adventure we were readying for a hike above the snow line when Ruby announced she’d only brought flip flops.
Last month the girls and I flew to Orlando for USA Jump Rope Nationals where Margot was competing. I don’t know the word for how I feel about her hard work and accomplishment but proud feels too small. She exceeded her own hopes and exhibited strength, gratitude, determination and love. Ruby was so excited to go and I was thoughtful about the fact that she might feel outside of the energy around her spotlit sister but homegirl just brings her own light wherever she goes.
On this trip, I really felt how much I love this stage of mothering. It’s big and important and I’m all in. It’s reciprocal in a new way. We cheer each other on, feel each other’s feelings. We hold hands to cannonball into the pool, we find our way through the Denver airport at 2am after 13 hours of delays and missed connections, we laugh about the sketchy car rental place with the shot out window.
Being their mom is tops.
Our Uber driver in Denver asked my daughters such great questions about their travels and lives. In their conversation, they both confessed total confusion with the airport. They didn’t understand the signs. It felt like a mystery that only a parent could understand and therefore they felt afraid of being lost in airport more than anywhere. It’s a foreign language: terminal, gate, concourse. So much hurrying. And those giant screens with the times and numbers. So Hayelom told them of the time he came to Washington DC from Ethiopia 12 years prior. Alone. Not having ever flown and not speaking English. “And so you know that people are good and you just ask questions. You are both good at asking questions. You rely on others and you get through. And you learn so you know next time. That is your job! The next time you don’t know, you ask questions and you learn. Starting at the airport today.”
And so they did. They decoded our boarding passes and signs and led us to our gate. They asked questions and we found our way.
And I’m thinking Hayelom’s advice is good for a great many things. Like starting middle school. Or like parenting a kid who is starting middle school when you did not thrive in middle school and you don’t want to burden your kid’s experience with your own baggage. Rely on others. Ask questions. Learn. Grow confidence. Find your way.